Although not a legal holiday in most of Canada (unless you live in Newfoundland), St. Patrick’s Day is widely recognized and celebrated across the nation with Irish festivals, parades, traditional fares like corned beef and cabbage and prominent displays of the colour green.
Celebrated annually on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick honours the anniversary of his death in 460 AD. St. Patrick was a patron of Ireland and devoted himself to the Christian religion, evangelizing to and converting those in the northern half of Ireland. His efforts against the Druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland (Ireland never had any snakes).
Many symbols that represent this festive holiday among which is the shamrock, the official flower of Ireland. It is regarded as the native plant of Ireland and prominently worn on St. Patrick’s Day.
The shamrock is as a symbol of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day due in part to the natural abundance of clover plants in the country, and its strong association with Christianity. Legend says that St. Patrick used the shamrock to illustrate the concept of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) when trying to convert non-Christian pagans to Christianity.
There are other popular St. Patrick’s Day symbols too: leprechaun, a pot of gold, rainbows, the harp and, of course, the colour green.
According to Irish folklore, a leprechaun is a mischievous type of fairy who spends his time making shoes in the forest and hides his gold in pots at the end of a rainbow. If a human captures a leprechaun, the leprechaun must grant the captor three wishes or reveal where his gold is hidden to be released.